Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Feelgood factor at a high as new Irish language school opens

Children attending a Naiscoil in Glengormley can now continue their education in the Irish medium sector with the opening of St Enda's Gaelscoil.

With 13 pupils currently in primary one, it is hoped the Hightown Road school will accumulate 105 pupils over the next seven years to meet government targets.

Secretary of the school's board of governors Dara MacCoille, said to date there has been a high demand for Irish medium education in the area and interest in the nursery has increased since the primary school opened in September.

He said he believed more parents wanted their children to attend the Naiscoil because they knew they could continue their education at the Gaelscoil.

He explained: "A group of parents knowing there was Irish medium schools in other parts of the city really wanted to start up some sort of driving committee to start a nursery to see if it was feasible.

"The Naiscoil opened about four years ago and there are 23 places at it which are always in demand. However, what was happening was the children were picking up some Irish in the Naiscoil and the parents wanted to send them to an Irish medium primary school but the closest one would be in the city centre."

Efforts were concentrated on the development of a Gaelscoil and it was finally granted approval by the Education Minister Caitriona Ruane during the summer.

Mr MacCoille said the benefits for the pupils are obvious: "The travel time obviously helps and is a primary issue for some parents because it means they don't have to send their children too far to school.

"There's such a good link with the Irish language, culture and sports at the schools as well, particularly because it's on the same site as the GAA.

"There has been fantastic community support for the school. The demand has risen year on year. We have grown about 15% while mainstream schools have seen a downturn. We now have quite a strict entrance criteria and a lot of parents would be on the committee.

"The children are enjoying themselves. They love that they are part of a new school and we have been getting extremely positive comments from the parents themselves. The whole thing has a real feelgood factor, especially for the children who are very proud of their new school."

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